Welcome to Oceanus

by The Old Scott

Welcome to a world of water. That's us-the folks who live on the third planet out from Sol. Sure, we call it Earth, but that is strictly a minority viewpoint, because there is about 18 times more water than earth on Planet Earth. And a good thing, too! Besides being absolutely essential to our bodies, water makes all the difference between Earth being a barren slag-heap in space, and the beautiful green home that God has given us.

Don't be misled into thinking water is very ordinary, just because there is so much of it. As a matter of fact, water is a most remarkable substance.

Take ice, for example: Water is the only known substance that is lighter when frozen than in its normal liquid state. And that makes a difference between life and death to us, and to nearly all life. Suppose that ice were heavier than water: when freezing temperatures came, the ice would sink to the bottom of ponds, rivers, lakes-every body of water-as it formed, and there it would stay! It would build up and up, with each freeze, until finally all but the surface would be perpetually frozen.

(Scientists have demonstrated that ice held at the bottom of a tank remains frozen for a good long while, even if the water on top is made to boil. The "permafrost" in northern Canada and Alaska is a good example of this in nature. Permafrost is soil beneath the surface of the ground that never thaws, under normal circumstances.)

So the sun's rays would never have a chance to melt the ice at the bottom of lakes and rivers, and as the ice increased, it would gradually change the climate. Ultimately even the oceans would freeze, and our Earth would be just a great ball of ice. Life would be impossible.

There's more: life on earth would also be extremely difficult if the temperature at which water freezes was anything but 32 degrees above zero: Imagine rain at 20 degrees (just 12 degrees below the actual freezing point-a really tiny difference in view of the 672-degree range from absolute zero to the boiling point of water, but a huge difference to man and beast). The wet cold would mean death, without protection. There would also be no protective blankets of snow for plants, but instead freezing and destructive winter flooding. And if the freeze point were merely a few degrees higher, the snow and ice would never melt in the colder parts of the world, and glaciers would again march south to cover much of the U.S.

No, our heavenly Provider knew exactly what He was doing when He made water! And He made water from two invisible gases: hydrogen and oxygen. Being made from two light gases, water really should not be liquid at all. It should be an invisible gas itself.

Water, which has an atomic weight of 18, is liquid below its boiling point of 212 degrees. Ammonia, however, with an atomic weight of 17-only 1 less than water-is a gas and stubbornly remains a gas, clear down to about 90 degrees below zero. No wonder a research chemist said: "The fact that water exists as a liquid at all, at ordinary temperatures, is something to make one stop and think."

Water is also a powerful solvent. More things dissolve in water than in any other liquid. This is vital to all growing things, for plants depend on water to carry nourishment in solution up through their roots.

Again, water is a wonderful weather "shock-absorber," cushioning against great changes in temperature. Our oceans and lakes help keep our Earth a livable place.

The Earth was designed for life, by a Master Builder. And as we learn more about even the "simple" elements of God's creation, we'll understand the praise song which the Apostle John placed in Rev. 4:11: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for thy glory they are and were created."

Sources:

Leonard Engle: The Sea (in Life Nature Library Series), Time, Inc., 1961.

Thomas David Parks: "Plain Water Will Tell You the Story," in The Evidence, John Clover Monsma, ed., Gospel Literature Service, Bombay, 1968.

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